Delivery of first COVID-19 vaccine shipment from COVAX Facility delayed

Due to the shortage of a global supply of Covid-19 vaccines, the vaccine batch provided for Vietnam by the COVAX program may arrive in Vietnam later than scheduled.
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Photo: Vietnam Plus

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility cannot be delivered to Vietnam as planned in late March as producers are expanding and optimizing the production process, the Ministry of Health’s Department of Preventive Medicine has said.

Some 811,200 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses, fewer than the original plan of 1.1 million doses, are scheduled to arrive in the country in the next three weeks. Around 3 million more doses will be arriving by the end of May, pending operational and supply constraints, Vietnam Plus cited.

The remaining amount of vaccines committed by COVAX Facility for Vietnam from the 3rd quarter of 2021 may be delayed until 2022. The Ministry of Health is working with COVAX Facility to accelerate the progress.

"Due to production delays of COVID-19 vaccine distributed through COVAX, the projected deliveries to all countries have had to be delayed, and the amounts to be sent have been reviewed and adjusted. This means that Viet Nam is now due to receive 811,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next three weeks. This quantity is smaller than previously announced for the first shipment and based on an equitable pro-rata distribution of available doses between all participant countries. Based on initial information shared by the manufacturer, the aim remains to deliver a total of 4,176,000 doses to Viet Nam by the end of May, pending operational and supply constraints.

Photo: Vietnamnet

In this early phase of COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, vaccine manufacturers require time to scale and optimize their production processes. AstraZeneca, which uses a novel supply chain network with sites across multiple continents, is working to shorten its lead times to enable timely supply to all COVAX participants," UNICEF full-text notification reads.

On March 23, Vietnam approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19, the second approved in the Southeast Asian county after the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Ministry of Health and vaccine suppliers have worked with Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna for COVID-19 vaccine procurement, however, they have not informed their ability to supply vaccines in 2021.

Additionally, the country is also banking on homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, not only to serve the domestic demands but also to export the surplus to other nations. The front-runner among the three currently being developed in the country, NanoCovax by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, is undergoing the second phase of human trials, with results expected in May. The third and final phase of human trials is scheduled to take place around May to September, and registration for circulation will be pushed forward to September, three months earlier than planned.

Photo: SCMP

COVAX, the overarching effort to accelerate development and access to COVID vaccines, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, manufacturers and civil society organizations, and others.

Regarding the batch of AstraZeneca vaccine imported through the Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company (VNVC), it is expected that the remaining 29.87 million doses will arrive in Vietnam in the second and third quarters of 2021. However, the exact time of arrival may be pushed back due to the shortage of global supply of vaccines, said Vietnamnet.

Previously, VNVC signed a contract to buy 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with a deposit of up to VND600 billion (nearly $30 million) during the clinical trial of phase 3 of this vaccine. VNVC has agreed to sell the vaccine to the Ministry of Health in a non-profit form. In late February, the first 117,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine produced by SK Bio - Korea arrived in Vietnam, and have been used in a nationwide vaccination campaign since March 8.

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Valerie Mai
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